All that summer before I went to Uni
I would see him on the old stone bridge
white hair hidden by a blue beanie.
Looking down at a fisherman casting an arching line.
A solitary heron hunched amongst the reeds. All of them hoping for a catch.
He knew I was an avid red, so he often dispensed
with formal greetings and called out fictional footy scores instead.
And the score here at Goodison Park is Everton 2 Liverpool 1
delivered with the affectations of a seasoned pundit.
On one of our meetings on the bridge
he asked me to enter a top-up into his new Nokia3210,
so he could call a number scrawled on the back of his wrinkled hand.
He told me that old age had turned the small numbers on the voucher into morse;
a coded script he could no longer understand
and yet here he was sending out this S.O.S
for someone to talk to on the bridge.
For someone, who could have been his grandson,
to help him with this newfangled device.
Halfway through my first year of hedonism,
I was surprised to receive a flurry of texts,
that came like the sudden onset of rain on a summer’s evening and dried up just as fast.
They were old Nokia templates, preset in the phone.
Are you busy? Please call. Are you busy? Please call. Please call.
I sent the classic who dis in reply
waited for an answer that never came.
When I considered who it could be
I could see Frankie on the bridge again.
And I go to speak to him there
of loneliness and quiet desperation;
of old men who struggle to keep the pace
with a world that keeps on spinning;
but he puts his finger to his lips,
cuts me off when I’m just beginning
This just in from Goodison, Everton are winning!
Written By: Chris McLaughlin
Chris McLaughlin was born and raised in Strabane, Northern Ireland – now lives in Manchester. Lockdown has signaled a return to writing poetry, after a few years of creating very little. His pamphlet of ‘Five Poems’ was published by PenPointsPress in 2015.